Greater Manchester mental health trust issued with safety warning

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Prestwich Hospital in BuryImage source, Google
Image caption,
The trust's safety rating for mental health services has dropped to "inadequate" - the lowest level

A mental health trust has been told to make immediate safety improvements by a watchdog after users were found to be at risk of harm.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust in April after a whistleblower raised concerns.

It found users and carers struggled to contact the service for support or during a crisis.

The trust said it acknowledged the findings and will address the concerns.

The trust, which runs Prestwich Hospital in Bury, retains its overall "good" rating but its safety rating for mental health services has dropped to "inadequate" - the lowest level, the health regulator said.

The CQC issued the warning about the trust's community-based mental health services for adults after inspecting two teams and finding:

  • Patients and carers were unable to contact the service with ease regarding care and treatment
  • The service suffered from low staffing levels and high turnover rates
  • It did not effectively monitor patients waiting for assessment and treatment or keep risk assessments up to date
  • Staff were not appropriately or consistently assessing and managing risks or keeping good care records

The trust was criticised in an independent review earlier this year after it said the fatal stabbing of seven-year-old Emily Jones by a psychiatric patient could not have been prevented.

Staff shortages had also been identified in a confidential report in 2021.

'Increasingly difficult'

Brian Cranna, the watchdog's head of hospital inspection, said "managers supported and supervised newly qualified staff well and patients said the service was good".

He added: "However, people using the service and their carers also told us they struggled to contact the service for support or when in crisis.

"This left people at risk of harm as they had no way to tell staff their mental health had worsened."

Deborah Partington, chief operating officer at the trust, said the Covid-19 pandemic had led to an increase in demand for mental health services and recruitment was "increasingly difficult", which "inevitably puts pressure on the capacity of services"

"We will continue to work as hard as we can to improve our services for those who need us, and we would like to reassure people that service users in our care are safe", she added.

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